Virtual Exchange with Problem-Based Learning: Practicing Analogy Development with Diverse Partners

Peter Rillero, Ali Kozan Soykal, Alpay Bicer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Problem-based learning via virtual exchange affords opportunities for students to learn biology while developing abilities to learn about and work with diverse others. We describe an activity using these methods, with goals for students to develop useful cell structure analogies, analyze how analogies are not perfect representations of target concepts, practice working with diverse others, deepen cell structure knowledge, and learn about people from another culture. We explain the framework for the activity and share student evaluation data. The activity had U.S. and Egyptian high school girls compare their Phoenix and Cairo homes, create an imagined combined home, construct an analogy for how cell structures and organelles are like parts of this home, and then analyze their analogy to see where it breaks down. The activity does not require special materials, only internet access through a computer or mobile phone and access to Google Docs. Students used critical and creative thinking, first to construct their analogies and then to analyze those analogies. Evaluation data suggest that students learned from the activity, enjoyed it, and appreciated the opportunity to work with someone from a different culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-452
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Biology Teacher
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • science education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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